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With bars closed, German brewery works with bakers to make bread with beer

“It would have been such a shame to just toss out such a tasty beer," the brewer said.
Coelven bakery in Duesseldorf, Germany
The historic Fuechschen brewery in Duesseldorf, has about 6,000 liters of its renowned copper-colored 'Altbier' unsold and nearing its expiry date. Daniel Niemann / AP

With restaurants and bars all closed due to pandemic restrictions, a Duesseldorf brewery found itself with 6,000 liters (1,585 gallons) of its copper-colored “Altbier” unsold and nearing its expiry date.

But with trying times come novel solutions. Fuechschen Brewery brewery paired up with craft bakers already using leftover grains from the brewing process to produce loaves of “Treberbrot,” or “Spent Grain Bread.”

A bread loaf that was baked with beer is displayed in the Coelven bakery in Duesseldorf, Germany, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Daniel Niemann / AP

“It would have been such a shame to just toss out such a tasty beer,” said Peter Koenig, whose family has run the brewery since 1908.

“Then we came up with this idea to bake the bread with the beer, to leave out the water,” he said Tuesday. “I think it’s great that these two craft industries have come together like this.”

About a dozen bakeries have been producing the Treberbrot since the start of the week, giving the added bonus of a bottle of Fuechschen’s Altbier, a regional specialty, for free with each loaf.

“It’s a very hearty, tasty bread with a crispy baked crust and a soft middle,” said baker Janika Derksen, whose family runs Coelven bakery.

She said that word of the bread, which her bakery sells for 3.95 euros ($4.65) a loaf including the bottle of Altbier, has spread rapidly.

“We’ve had queries from all across Germany if we can send it by mail, which we gladly do,” she said.

Customer Michael Maassen dropped by on Tuesday to pick up a loaf for himself — and the bottle of Altbier — after hearing about the promotion from social media.

“It’s a great campaign, solidarity with one another is more important now than it ever has been,” said the 48-year-old soldier.

“I hope it tastes like Fuechschen!”

Beer sales in Germany have been hurt by lockdown measures that have kept restaurants and bars shut since the beginning of November, except for takeouts.

That’s a problem particularly for Germany’s many small brewers, like Fuechschen, which often rely heavily on selling draft beer that they can’t shift at the moment.